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..                                                                                                     B. POLEVOI
snow that was blackened by fumes, ashes and charred
wood. All around, by the roadside, under the bushes and
in the ditches, lay the bodies of German soldiers. It was
evident that they had fled in horror, that death had struck
at them from 'behind every tree, behind every bush,
screened by the snowy mantle spread by the blizzard, and
that they had died not really knowing what had hap-
pened, the body of the officer, minus his trousers, was
tied to a tree. To his green tunic with the dark collar was
pinned a scrap of paper on which was written: "You got
what you came for", and beneath this ^ inscription, in
another hand, was written with an indelible pencil the
Alexei searched this scene of battle, looking for some-
thing to eat. All he found was a stale, mouldy rusk,
trampled into the snow and pecked by birds. He at once
put it to his mouth and greedily inhaled the sourish
flavour of rye bread. He wanted to put the whole rusk
into his mouth and chew, chew and chew the fragrant,
pulpy bread, but he suppressed the desire and broke the
rusk into three pieces, pushed two of them deep into his
thigh pocket and then began to pick the third into crumbs
and to suck each crumb as though it were a sweet, to
draw out the pleasure as long as possible.
Once again he went over the scene of battle, and here
an idea struck him: "There must be partisans somewhere
round about here! They must have trampled the slushy
mow in the bushes and around the trees!" Perhaps they
lad already seen him wandering among the corpses, and
jomcwhere from the top of a fir-tree, or behind a bush,
i partisan scout was watching him? He cupped his hands
-ound his mouth and shouted with all his might:
"0-ho! Partisans! Partisans!"
He was surprised that his voice sounded so faint and
eeble. Even the echo that came reverberating from the
lepth of the forest, re-echoing against the tree trunks,
eemed louder.
"Partisans! Pa-artisans! 0-ho!" he called over and
ver again, sitting in the black, greasy snow amidst the
ilent enemy corpses.
He strained his ears for a reply. His voice was hoarse
nd cracked, he now realised that having done their job